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Private The End Again | Invite

Isobel Nakano

Nightshade
Character
Points
0


toxic illusion, falling deeper spiral through time

It was still the wee hours when Isobel Nakano's eyes opened, but she didn't know exactly what time. She didn't know what had caused her to wake up. These days it could have been anything. Or it could be nothing at all.

She took a moment to orient herself, casting a gaze beyond her bed. Vast picture windows looked out over a beautiful mountain range. Even in the dark, with only the lights of the stars and moon and the muted lights of the small city nestled at its base, she could tell that the mountain's caps were blanketed with snow.

Mountains. So she was in her flat at the White Blossom resort on Atrisia.

She heard steady breathing to her right. That checked out, too. She didn't come to the White Blossom alone anymore. Even with its state of the art security system, its reinforced windows with security coating rendering it opaque from the outside, Isobel didn't come here alone. She carefully slipped out of the bed, making every effort not to wake her companion, even suppressing the sucking of her teeth as her feet touched the cold floors. Gooseflesh raced up her legs. She reached for her dressing gown and pulled it tightly around her slender frame before easing her feet into the slippers that had been discarded haphazardly nearby.

Isobel picked up her datapad from the bedside table and activated the screen to check the time. 0319. But more than the time, a message caught her eye:


>> HOLO.ENCRYPT//113M-ejj--; data=ghosted; data-uplink=secure; masking-status=active; function=security; permissions=limited;]

Alert: Facial Recognition Search - Subject Aurek-6 - Possible Partial Match. Details sent to e-mail.


Isobel's breath caught in her throat and she glanced over her shoulder briefly before going into the living room of the flat, where she had left her laptop. She perched on the sofa and powered up her laptop. With trembling fingers she navigated to her email and searched for the message. She clicked it and waited for it to flash up on the screen. There was a brief blurb about where the potential match had come from (Empress Teta) and when (that day) but she was focused on seeing whatever her team had sent.

The images were grainy, from the security cameras of a magtrain station on Empress Teta. Her eyes narrowed as she set about enhancing the image. It wasn't a great angle -- somewhere between a profile and a three-quarters view -- but it had been enough to get a partial match. A handful of green dots overlaid the image. The green dots didn't help her, particularly. Her eyes swept over the curve of the jaw, the brim of the hat, the particular hook of the nose. The one eye she could see. The man in the photo was speaking. Isobel couldn't quite make out the teeth, but the line of his bottom teeth wasn't straight across. Her dark eyes narrowed, willing the details to become more clear.

She was about to set the computer aside and go splash some water on her face to wake herself up when there was a faint blip and a notification popped up with the same tag: Subject Aura-6. Isobel opened that message. Another security camera on Empress Teta, this one at an automated banking machine across the street from a nightclub. Isobel scrolled down to the photo and was surprised at the resolution. This was a straight profile, but the resolution was high enough that she could see every bump on the man's nose, every piece of stubble, the bulge of his jaw. That was him. She would know his face anywhere, even from a profile. Cierrol Harlow.

She opened a reply to the email and sent a series of single commands: Follow him. Track him at all times. Stand by for instructions. Do not lose him. Keep me updated.

A glance towards the bedroom again. Despite her pulse racing, she set her computer to the side and went back in. There would be time for action, but for now... for the time it would take to travel between Empress Teta and Atrisia, Isobel was safe. She slipped off her slippers again and let her dressing gown slither to the floor before sliding back beneath the covers. It was still warm. She settled against the pillow and pulled the blanket up over her shoulders. Isobel was asleep a few moments after her head reached the pillow.

In the other room, her datapad vibrated silently on the sofa as reports from her surveillance teams streamed in, reporting on Cieroll Harlow's movements half a galaxy away.


 
Crane
Character
Points
0
Isobel Nakano Isobel Nakano

By the time that Isobel was up again? The space next to her was empty, but still holding some warmth.

It hadn't been long since Val slid out and started moving about.

Quietly however. Not wishing to disturb the peace just as much as she had.

By the time she went looking? Isobel would find Val sitting in the exact spot she had been. Looking over the datapad and the information flowing by the moment as Cieroll's movements were being tracked. His back facing her it was difficult to gauge his mood. His shoulders seemed tense, he was huddled over the datapad like it was fire pit and there was a freezing temperature.

It had been difficult enough to accept him moving around First Order space. See, that had just been business. Just the way the game was played and Val hadn't held it against Delilah.

But that was then - when the FOSB clearly had kept a tighter lid on Cieroll's movements - and this is now. When they seemingly stopped caring about keeping their monster in a cage. The conclusion was inevitable then. It wasn't so much predetermined as simply chosen for them. Val sighed and tilted his head as he realized he was being watched.

"To Empress Teta then?" The man asked calmly as he leaned back against the sofa. "No Imperial protection anymore as far as I am concerned, if he's strutting around Alliance space like he owns the damn planet."

From out of a draw Val got his case with cigarettes.

Lighting one up, taking a drag and then offering it to Isobel.

"And I was just starting to get used to our prolonged vacation together."
 

Isobel Nakano

Nightshade
Character
Points
0


static delusion, this is where we do or die

The sun had crept over the mountains to the east, and its light created a dim but growing ambient light in the room that roused her. Her fingers crept along the flat of the mattress before Isobel was fully awake, subconsciously seeking reassurance that she wasn't alone. She found the reassurance she sought but not how she'd expected; instead of a solid body, it was only residual warmth left in its wake. But it was enough. She opened her eyes and looked around the room. Val was gone. She shifted closer to his side, resting her head on his pillow for a moment. The faint trace of his cologne lingered there.

After a few moments, Isobel rolled over and sat up. She picked up her dressing gown from where she had dropped it in the night and pulled it on. She didn't need the slippers; the under-floor heating had kicked in now that it was waking hours, so her feet were pleasantly toasty as she stood up. Isobel used her toes to push her slippers against the bedside table as she moved towards the living room. She wasn't surprised to see Val sitting there, helping himself to her datapad and emails.

She didn't say anything for the moment, instead busying herself with tying the sash of her dressing gown around her waist. Val's shoulders were tense, which made Isobel's shoulder's tense. Cierrol Harlow was Isobel's albatross, and she appreciated and despaired in equal measure that Val had taken it as his own burden, as well. The moment didn't last long; his head tilted and he spoke to her. The young woman hesitated in the doorway before approaching the sofa.

She perched on the coffee table, close enough that their knees bumped gently when she shifted. Isobel took the datapad and scrolled through the list of tips. The most recent was only a few minutes old. Her agents were still on Harlow's tail. Isobel finally allowed her eyes to meet Val's; her gaze was apologetic. "You don't have to go," she said gently. Another blip as an update came in and she tore her eyes away to read it. Harlow was entering a residential apartment building.

"We've seen him more in the last four hours than in the last four months," she observed, handing the datapad back to him. "I don't know if he's been careful up until now, or if he just kept to First Order space, where we don't have visibility into the surveillance networks..." Isobel's voice trailed off and she glanced towards the door briefly before turning her attention back to Val.

Isobel took the proffered cigarette automatically, taking a drag from it before offering it back to him. It was a comforting intimate shorthand. "I've been out of the Bureau for a long time now, but I still really doubt the Alliance would be happy to have us traipsing around their territory, apprehending a man." She glanced at him and quirked a brow as she exhaled the t'bacc smoke. "Or not apprehending him."

No, she was not interested in apprehending Harlow. There was only one way this was going to end, and it did not involve a prison cell.

"Do we know anyone in the Alliance?" she finally asked, reaching for the cigarette again.

 
Crane
Character
Points
0
Isobel Nakano Isobel Nakano

His hand absently went to her knee and gave it a little reassuring squeeze.

This was what worried Val the most.

It wasn't Harlow himself. That one fancied himself a crime lord, but he was just a bully. A piece of excrement they'd snuff out. No, it was what it did and still would do to Isobel. She had never fully told him the tale, didn't share all the details of her imprisonment, but enough to know that it had left a clear mark on her.

He had been captured himself a number of times - in this business you can't really get around it, sometimes a lack of luck or preparation just got you into that position. None of it pleasant, none of it happy.

But the years on Yag'dhul had made him tough to it.

"We have to assume it's a combination of both. I don't think he has left Order space often, but... enough to land on Yag'dhul and not immediately ping every once of our signals." It had taken an errant camera catching his face to set this in motion. What if Harlow had been wearing a mask or holographic-scrambling devices?

No, they got lucky, that was for sure.

Val accepted the cigarette back and took a drag himself. Let her question ruminate in him for a moment, while he considered it. "Some. Mostly local players, a few cops and detectives, some informers... I think we have enough in place to-" A grunt there as Val realized what it would mean. "-enough that we can insert ourselves with a couple of scrambled identities to chase this lead. But it will be risky."

"You interested in becoming a fancy SIA operative, Bella?" Another drag to steady his nerves, because the idea certainly didn't do him any favors.

The Alliance was so... un-Imperial.
 

Isobel Nakano

Nightshade
Character
Points
0


and i've been here before: face to face with the gun

Isobel hesitated at the question, unsure as to whether he was being sarcastic or not. Ideologically, she was closer to the reformed First Order than anywhere else, but over the years she had developed something of an admiration for the Alliance -- at least the Alliance under Adhira Chandra -- however grudging that admiration might be. But joining up... that was a different question.

On the other hand, there was something attractive about fighting for a cause again. Something greater than herself and her pocketbook. Lord knew she had plenty of funds a this point; she could afford to indulge her conscience if it came to that.

"I'm interested in living my life again," Isobel said after a moment's consideration. She stood and went over to the sideboard. The flat was equipped with a small kitchenette; the caff pod machine that she went over to got more use than anything else. "You want?" she asked over her shoulder. She put a cup under it, inserted a pod, and set it to brew.

Leaning against the counter, she crossed her arms over her chest and fixed her dark eyes on Val. "I meant what I said. You don't have to go. I know they're not exactly your kind of people," she said delicately, a ghost of a smile crossing her face. "And this isn't necessarily your fight. I wouldn't think any less of you."

 
Last edited:
Crane
Character
Points
0
Isobel Nakano Isobel Nakano

"Yeah, ain't no way I am heading to bed again, so might as well." Murmured over his shoulder as he looked down to the datapad again. Part of him wondered if it wouldn't have been better if Harlow had never resurfaced.

Then again.

Was this life?

Constant fear from her, constant vigilance from him. Didn't Val miss the old days when the biggest concern was business? Yeah. And wouldn't he give anything to get that back? Yup. So, really, there was no choice here. Not really. It were just gradients of chit to wade through and the only difference was what laid there at the end.

"Not my kind of people..." Val repeated softly. "I ain't a straightlaced Imperial, you know that." It had shocked her back when they met on Yag'dhul. The dossier had described Crane as a desk jockey station chief.

Just a bureaucrat.

And once upon a time Val had been that. Before going native in the Yag'dhul underworld. "But yeah, I dun' like the Alliance. They are a mess. That don't matter though. I ain't doing it for them, I am doing this for us. Bury that little chit." Oh, yeah, nothing delicate about HIS way of describing it. There would be no jail involved for sure.

"That way we won't have to look over our shoulder every day. So... yeah, I do need to do this." Val smirked there however. "Besides, it's been ages since I got to do some good ol' fashioned field work. It will be fun too, no?"
 

Isobel Nakano

Nightshade
Character
Points
0


up against all the odds, and i'm the only one

A faint smile crept over Isobel's lips as she fixed Val's caff; she had learned his preferences over a dozen round-the-clock stakeouts and more mornings like this one. She put another pod in for her own and took the first over to him, setting it on the table next to his seat. "You were, once," she said in reference to his defense against being a straightlaced Imperial. His transformation from their time at the academy to their next meeting had been rather astonishing. A rules-following -- well, there was no other word for it but nerd -- at the academy, he had proved to be quite something else when they crossed paths on Yag'dhul again.

"I don't know how much I am, either," she mused. "I wonder if it was just -- I don't know -- convenience. The places I spent my time were with the First Order. Delilah took an interest in me." Her gaze was vacant for a moment, her eyes glossy and unfocused until the chime of the caff machine tugged her back into the present. "At any rate, I don't know what I am anymore. I don't know if I'm anything."

Did it make sense to have a political ideology or a state loyalty when Cierrol Harlow was prowling around.

She stirred some milk and sugar into her coffee and brought it back to the sofa, where she propped herself unceremoniously on the cushions, stretching her feet out towards Val. "Field work," she echoed him wryly. "Yeah. Well, start a shopping list. We'll stop at the candy shop on the way. What passports should we bring for this? Please don't say zeltron. I looked like a boiled lobster for weeks." She paused and slurped a little coffee. "Should we go as ourselves? If we're honest with the Alliance about our intentions they might not like it. Then again... a few credits in the right hands..."

Isobel raised an eyebrow at Val, letting her voice trail off suggestively.

 
Crane
Character
Points
0
Isobel Nakano Isobel Nakano

Once upon a time.

He could barely remember the man- no, the boy he had been at the academy. Sheltered, a stick up his arse and with the assumption he knew everything about anything. Yag'dhul quickly showed him just how wrong he was. And to think that it was supposed to be a dead-end position to bury him after Val had accidentally insulted an annoyed FOSB bureaucrat.

"Oh, I'd say you're quite a lot." Val murmured teasingly as he accepted the caf with a thank you and a nod. "For one, an excellent caf maker." The smirk couldn't be helped as Val continued to tease her.

Mostly... because he recognized that far-away look. It often meant her mind was on things that were better left buried.

The tease, then, was an attempt to shake her out of that. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. But it was always worth a try as far as Val was concerned. "Nah, I think it's best if we pick something Outer Rim-y. With the ORC collapse the Core Worlds saw a lot of refugees flowing into their territories."

Ah, but the question of their identity... now that was a pickle, wasn't it?

A grunt there. "Unsure there." Admitted honestly as he considered it. "Depends, I think. I doubt they kept track of every individual FOSB spy or station chief for that matter. I didn't use my real name on Yag'dhul anyway, so they won't be able to link one to the other." Val ran his fingers through his hair as he looked at her.

"I don't think we should be entirely honest. Somewhat honest might good enough, no? Use our names, but don't mention all the background attached to it, that they won't be able to find out themselves anyway."

After all, the lizards had done quite a number on Order bureaucracy all those years ago. FOSB had still been in the progress of clawing things back together once they restarted.

"What do you think?"
 

Isobel Nakano

Nightshade
Character
Points
0


oh i've been here before, it must be true

"It's Empress Teta," Isobel replied casually. "I'm sure there are dozens of aristocrats in every square mile with more money than sense. I'll say I'm scouting to open up a boutique." She took another sip of her caff and raised an eyebrow. "Come to that I might actually scout a location to open a boutique. It might be a good idea to have a foothold in Alliance space, and Empress Teta is enough of a plum that even if the Alliance falls, whoever occupies that space will want it. And from what I've read about the place in passing, the Lotus Universal suite of products might be right up their alley. Couture, lingerie, and murder machines. What's not to love?"

She finished her caff and then took the cup back into the kitchen. "Going to wash up." She disappeared into the bathroom where she took a rapid shower, brushed her teeth, and whisked on a little makeup. She used the time to collect herself and start thinking about how to proceed. Val was a better planner than she, no doubt, so she would have to leverage him. Not for the first time, she reflected that she was lucky to have him on hand.

Isobel went into the bedroom and dressed simply. "Any more from the team?" she called out to Val. By the time she emerged back into the main room, she had dressed in a pair of leggings and a tunic, boots and a jacket. She held up the passports, then set them on the table before sitting next to Val and putting the laptop on her thighs. "What do you think? Talk to the Alliance people and let them know what kind of man they're dealing with? If we can trap him there -- always hard to do with a city world, but in theory possible -- we can end it there."

Her eyes flicked over to his, dubious but with a hint of something dangerous: hope. There could be light at the end of the tunnel after all.



 
Crane
Character
Points
0
Isobel Nakano Isobel Nakano

"It's a hive masquerading as a pearl." Val mentioned casually in between caf sips. Every sip he took he felt a bit more awake. Alert. Invigorated to get to this task. Or maybe that was just his self acclimatizing to this new reality. The one where they were getting back to business. Was it any wonder his mind was racing parsecs a second trying to lock down everything they'd have to get busy with?

"Sith cultists playing nobles, nobles playing Sith cultists. The Alliance might run it, it might even have a Senator in the Alliance, but it always felt more at home with the One Sith than anything else."

When Isobel went to freshen up Val sprung into action himself.

His brain was thankful for it. First the same motions - shower, clothing - and then starting to nail down the equipment they would take. And the equipment they'd have to procure there.

"Yeah, some." Responding to her question from the bedroom. "He seems to have entered a hotel. The Golden Gate. I had them cross-reference their databases and there is a papertrail. Our guy has been frequenting the same hotel once every week or two for the past three months. Seems like we got real lucky with that partial face match."

He waggled his hand as he accepted the passport and made it disappear.

"Unsure. What are the odds he hasn't yet put his own feelers into the Alliance? I doubt he could get very far, but turning a bureaucrat or two? That seems entirely in his wheelhouse. If the wrong people get tipped off, he might be onto us before we even step foot planetside."

And yet...

Alliance support would have been incredibly helpful if they were in Alliance space.

"I think the way to go is to get into their intelligence agency. We can easily fabricate a story and get involved. It might take a while, but soon enough we would be able to hit him where it hurts. What do you think?"
 

Isobel Nakano

Nightshade
Character
Points
0


this is deathloop, at the beginning of the end again

Isobel lounged in the spot that Val had vacated, listening to him as he went through his process of getting ready. She rested her chin on the armrest, watching the shadow he cast on the wall. Her eyebrows furrowed at his suggestion that they infiltrate the Alliance's intelligence operation. The Strategic Intelligence Agency, or so it had been called the last time she had codeword clearance to the First Order's own security apparatus. "A bit of a risk," she observed casually. "We'll get a black mark they catch wind."

The fashion magnate could guess the reaction her companion would have to that eventuality -- somewhere between an eyeroll and an unbothered shrug.

"A lot of effort to go to if he ends up moving on before we can get our hooks into him," she went on. She hoped her tone made it clear that she was simply making observations rather than arguing. Isobel stood and went into the bedroom, pausing in front of him to flatten the collar of his shirt briefly. "But it couldn't hurt if we were to get friendly contacts, whatever the case, right? The Alliance needs gadgets as much as anyone else," she said as she leaned against the dresser.

He is wearing the hell out of that shirt, she thought idly, but she knew there was no time to indulge the impulse beyond allowing her dark eyes to linger appreciatively. "I'm dying to know if they've got files on us. I don't suppose they'll let us see," Isobel said with a repressed giggle.

 
Crane
Character
Points
0
Isobel Nakano Isobel Nakano

It was exactly the reaction Val had.

A shrug.

Wouldn't be the first black mark Val earned and hopefully not the last either. In their business it was something of a glory button. It meant that you were enough of a pain in the ass to be noticed. If you didn't earn at least one in your career clearly you were better at being put behind a desk. Or you had to be one of those Ghost-types.

That slipped in and out without ever being noticed.

When Val slipped in? Oh, people noticed.

"True, true, yar right." Val conceded there without much issue. He enjoyed gaming through these sort of things with Isobel. It was a far cry from his 'lone wolf' days on Yag'dhul. Back then even as a station chief it had been mostly a one-man show. "Guess I am just tempted by the challenge, y'know, imagine it..."

Getting a bit of a dreamy tone there.

Not so much he didn't notice her look nor the touch on his collar. Val winked there and smirked. "See something you like, miss Nakano?" The tease came easy as he shook off the dream and came back to reality.

"Knock-out like always, miss, yar going to kill 'em dead in those boots." Appreciative tone before he managed to force himself to get back to business.

"Mmm, probably not, but same. Honestly. I think you got a good point- we can start by slipping in from the outside. Sell them goodies, show off some skill and let them recruit us, perhaps?"

It could be less risky that way.
 
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